By Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press, in Toronto Star, December 24, 2010
Seoul has staged days of military drills in a show of force meant to deter North Korea, including live-fire exercises earlier this week on a front-line island shelled by the North last month. Angered by the exercises, North Korea threatened Thursday it would launch a “sacred” nuclear war if Seoul hit it and warned that even the smallest intrusion on its territory would bring a devastating response.
The two sides are still technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce not a peace treaty, and a U.S. governor who recently made an unofficial diplomatic mission to the North has said the situation on the peninsula is a “tinderbox” and the worst he had ever seen it.
Still, the latest rhetoric seemed likely to be just that, words aimed at stirring pride at home and keeping the rival at bay.
Defense chief Kim Yong Chun said North Korea is “fully prepared to launch a sacred war” and would use its nuclear capabilities, calling Monday’s drills a “grave military provocation” that indicated South Korea and the U.S. are plotting to invade the North.
Another threat of "sacred war" from North Korea, with the South beating war drums in exercises to "deter" the North from a possible nuclear attack...and then there is that other "holy war" declared by Islamic jihadists, in the name of Allah...
It seems that if one wants to start a war, it is de rigeur to declare it sacred or holy or in the name of a holy figure. That kind of declaration must make it right, or ethical, or spiritual or moral or above the political fray, in some kind of "speak it and it must be true" fashion.
It says here that no war is, or can be, sacred.
It says here that war, by definition, is excluded from the sacred.
It says here that war is not part of any holy, sacred, religious, spiritual or moral or ethical design.
In fact, there is a considerable case to be made to the contrary...that war is fundamentally wrong, indefensible, unjustifiable, and unsustainable.
That judgement includes the recent, and still continuing, war in Iraq.
It also includes the war in Afghanistan, which seems to have been started in retaliation for the 9-11 attack on the U.S. by then president, Dubya Bush. That war is now the "Obama" war, according to the pundits who seem more than ready to lay it at his doorstep.
Now, there is a question, openly debated, about whether the U.S. should invade Pakistan, and the hiding places of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, even if the Pakistan government authorities declare that move unacceptable. One of the "calculations" in that equation is the danger that Pakistan itself might fall, as it is so close to being a failed state without such an intervention. And the U.S. has clearly been flying drone missions in much greater numbers over the last few months, over Pakistan, in pursuit of Taliban and Al Qaeda cells.
Let's give this space over to Chris Hedges, Columnist for Truthdig.com
This piece is from December 20, 2010, from the Truthdig.com website referencing the recent march in Washington of war protesters.
What can I tell you about war?
War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and, finally, physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems, economic, social, environmental and political, that sustain us as human beings. War is necrophilia. The essence of war is death. War is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. It is organized sadism. War fosters alienation and leads inevitably to nihilism. It is a turning away from the sanctity of life.
And yet the mythic narratives about war perpetuate the allure of power and violence. They perpetuate the seductiveness of the godlike force that comes with the license to kill with impunity. All images and narratives about war disseminated by the state, the press, religious institutions, schools and the entertainment industry are gross and distorted lies. The clash between the fabricated myth about war and the truth about war leaves those of us who return from war alienated, angry and often unable to communicate. We can’t find the words to describe war’s reality. It is as if the wider culture sucked the words out from us and left us to sputter incoherencies. How can you speak meaningfully about organized murder? Anything you say is gibberish.
The sophisticated forms of industrial killing, coupled with the amoral decisions of politicians and military leaders who direct and fund war, hide war’s reality from public view. But those who have been in combat see death up close. Only their story tells the moral truth about war. The power of the Washington march was that we all knew this story. We had no need to use stale and hackneyed clichés about war. We grieved together.
War, once it begins, fuels new and bizarre perversities, innovative forms of death to ward off the boredom of routine death. This is why we would drive into towns in Bosnia and find bodies crucified on the sides of barns or decapitated, burned and mutilated. That is why those slain in combat are treated as trophies by their killers, turned into grotesque pieces of performance art. I met soldiers who carried in their wallets the identity cards of men they killed. They showed them to me with the imploring look of a lost child.
We swiftly deform ourselves, our essence, in war. We give up individual conscience—maybe even consciousness—for the contagion of the crowd and the intoxication of violence. You survive war because you repress emotions. You do what you have to do. And this means killing. To make a moral choice, to defy war’s enticement, is often self-destructive. But once the survivors return home, once the danger, adrenaline highs and the pressure of the crowd are removed, the repressed emotions surface with a vengeance. Fear, rage, grief and guilt leap up like snake heads to consume lives and turn nights into long, sleepless bouts with terror. You drink to forget.
We reached the fence. The real prisoners, the ones who blindly serve systems of power and force, are the mandarins inside the White House, the Congress and the Pentagon. The masters of war are slaves to the idols of empire, power and greed, to the idols of careers, to the dead language of interests, national security, politics and propaganda. They kill and do not know what killing is. In the rise to power, they became smaller. Power consumes them. Once power is obtained they become its pawn. Like Shakespeare’s Richard III, politicians such as Barack Obama fall prey to the forces they thought they had harnessed. The capacity to love, to cherish and protect life, may not always triumph, but it saves us. It keeps us human. It offers the only chance to escape from the contagion of war. Perhaps it is the only antidote. There are times when remaining human is the only victory possible.
In a quiet, little corner of this space, we are marching with Chris Hedges, and his band of protestors, some of whom were recently jailed for their protest in Washington, against all war.
It is time, according to Hedges, and we concur, for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan, to pull back the horns of its vengeful, national security, politics and propaganda machine and to find a way to withdraw with some kind of honour, that can only come from a complete withdrawal.
No country can become leader of the "free world" and continue to invade other countries. It was not Afghanistan who, that, invaded the U.S. on 9-11. That country could not then, and can not today, mount an attack on any other country. It was the terrorists of Al Qaeda living in the hills of that country that generated the destruction known as 9-11. And the U.S. response has, as one might have predicted, been "over the top" and now that the war has been privatized, left mainly to the mercenaries whose sole motive is financial profit, groups like Blackwater are banking millions, perhaps billions. And everyone knows they could not care a whit about any of the various human components of the conflict.